Showing posts from August, 2021

Of Rocks and Sporadic Posts

Living gratefully today, I appreciate Zoom calls with my sisters, my Insight Timer meditation app, and the meals my husband Darcy and I have shared with our son Sam in the last months.  A quick note before I dive into this post. In the next several weeks, my blog posts will be more sporadic. I'll be here and I'll be posting, but not as regularly as usual. I am freeing up time for other endeavors.  Sam heads to his sophomore year of college and on-campus living today, after COVID significantly impacted his freshman year. He has been home since late last November; transferred schools, took online classes, worked a job the last few months.  He is ready and so are we. We want him to experience a more normal college year. We will miss him, and so will our dog Oliver. But he will be 20 miles away instead of 200. That feels so different, and tempers my motherly emotions this morning.  My family is one of my rocks. They are here for me. I am here for them. It's not all sunshine and

Make Room

"Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet.  Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light.” John Lewis Make room. For kindness, flexibility, tolerance. Make room and take time to care for Nature and all of our natural resources. I am sitting on our covered patio on a rainy morning complete with some thunder and lightning. Droughts and torrential rains aren't new, but the depth and breadth of them grow more ominous each year. The thunder is telling us to wake up. Wake up humans, before it is too late. So I do what I can to care for all of Creation. I could do more, but I won't ever give up and say it is someone else's problem or that my little contribution won't matter. It does and it will!  It starts by appreciating what Nature shows us. Last evening, this is what it showed me. Grass waving in a cooler breeze and evening light. This morning, this same grass is heavy with rain and reflecting a different light:  It makes room f

Unaccepted Self

“For it is the unaccepted self that stands in my way—and will continue to do so as long as it is not accepted,” wrote the Christian monk, Thomas Merton. I did a quick search and it told me the word acceptance is mentioned in over 200 of my posts here on "Habitual Gratitude."  No surprise. It's crucial to daily focus and calm, as well as to my emotional sobriety.  That same search tells me this is the first post that uses the word unaccepted. It's just the way I chose to phrase it. Acceptance always recommended, but it helps to know what is unaccepted, what gets in my way, clouds my judgment, skews my response.   Thank you Thomas Merton, for your wisdom. And thank you mirror for telling me where the unaccepted can be found . . . within. I am no longer my own worst enemy (not as harshly anyway) and I am learning that comfort is healthier when I create my own instead of looking elsewhere for it.  Many years of acceptance, and lack thereof, showed me my unaccepted self an

The Practice of Gratitude: A Guest Post From My Sister Danita

Today I am grateful for our grandson Aaron as he turns 4 today. Happy Birthday! We love you! And I am grateful for this guest post from my sister Danita. Read on . . .  The Practice of Gratitude: A Guest Post From My Sister Danita  My sister Danita and I like to call ourselves “the bookend sisters.”  She led the parade of eight sisters and is also “big sister” to four of the five brothers. I am the youngest girl, coming along thirteen years after Danita. By the time I was old enough to register much memory, she was pretty much out of the house. Today, I treasure that recent years and shared life experiences have brought us closer than we ever were in our younger, less vintaged days.  It is also quite fitting that Danita is writing a guest post for a blog she helped name and inspire. Back in March 2012, I was ready to leap into the blogosphere but hesitant to actually jump, unsure which way to go, and waffling on what to call my newest endeavor. Late that month, Danita used the term “ha

Head in the Clouds

Living gratefully today, I appreciate the cool air and the need for long pants and shirt as I sit outside. I love the cozy feeling after months of heat and humidity. I am also grateful for clouds and their wisdom when I take the time to notice.  As I dove into the "Nourishing Our Nature" practice through A Network for Grateful Living ,  the second day's practice was titled "Lose Yourself in the Clouds." It included  Gavin Pretor-Pinney's TED Talk "Cloudy with a chance of joy"  It is a delightful look at clouds and what they bring to our lives. I tend to pay attention to the sky daily, as a clue to weather and a source of light. Also as a source of faith and spiritual energy. But if you are like me, it is often a quick glance or short pause. I don't usually take the time to find a comfortable spot and just do some cloud-gazing for a few moments. Pretor-Pinney reminds us all that even though they can have negative connotations, there's a reas

What was the question?

Today I am grateful for the energy of students as a new school year gets underway, for people who listen, and for questions.  Questions. Life is full of them. More questions than answers. Tough, easy, rhetorical, unanswerable; questions come in all shapes and sizes.  I remember the moment my husband popped the question as he proposed to me 23 years ago. I remember the many questions I got answered by What To Expect When You’re Expecting  when I was pregnant with our son. I smile at the sometimes unending questions from our grandsons.  In my education career, questions are part of the gig. As a classroom teacher, it was questions posed to students for discussion or on a test, or the lighter fare of the current events game we played on many Fridays. As a counselor, it is more about open-ended questions and listening to others as they answer some of their own questions.  Then there are the questions we ask ourselves. Many of mine have been repetitive and seemingly difficult. The kind that

The Deer and I

  WORD FOR THE DAY We are nature and we are it all the time, no matter how far away or how close we perceive it to be at each moment. Fabiana Fondevila Readers here know that I love Nature. The changing seasons. Whatever the weather brings. Colors of life and transformation. I feel connected to Nature, and there find a source of faith. But in my complex human nature, I create mental and emotional obstacles and I hold back. I miss some of Nature's deepest energy.  In more recent times, those obstacles have been dismantled, at least partially. There is awe and mystery. There is a more rich connection.  That is what I experienced this weekend in one of my favorite places, near the farm in my family.  On a morning run, I paused when I saw a doe and fawn ahead. We shared a moment before they dashed off. This poem came: The Deer and I We shared the  magnificent sun,  air, stillness. Sorry to disturb  your peace and quiet. Know you  added to mine. Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  On a

Effort Realized

Word for the Day  Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result,  one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul. Simone Weil  These words give me pause today, and continued hope. I can tell you that dividends from daily meditation practice have arrived, in small and large amounts, pretty regularly for me. But I have also had to be "hit upside the head" numerous times before some obvious points of clarity registered in my thick head.  So, I plan to continue with my regular practice, which I have come to look forward to and now make a priority in my morning routine. The benefits continue to emerge. I have had momentary floods. Mostly trickles and streams. Hope is alive. Light grows.  As I further ponder this phrase, another one that comes to my mind is "Only the disciplined are free." I wrote about it in this post from April 2015, titled  The Journey of a Thousand Posts . It marked a thousand blog posts and the val

Complacency Kills

Today I am grateful for the fresh air and a fresh start on a new day. I am grateful that this air has a touch of fall in it this morning, beckoning my favorite season.  What I am not grateful for today is complacency. My own and that of others. There's a big difference between being content and being complacent. Being content allows me to be present and aware. It also keeps me contributing to the doings of the day. From mundane house chores, to job responsibilities, to favorite pastimes and interpersonal connections, I am fulfilled by fulfilling responsibilities and doing my part.  Complacency, on the other hand, tricks us into inaction or outright counterproductivity. We are smugly satisfied by what we have done and we stop doing it, rest on our laurels, wait for others to step up; whatever the case may be. Complacency kills. It's a serious malady when it takes hold and settles in, no matter what area of our lives it is happening in. Complacency kills people in recovery from a

I Keep Forgetting

WORD FOR THE DAY You have to remember one life, one death–this one! To enter fully the day, the hour, the moment whether it appears as life or death…requires only a moment, this moment. Stephen Levine  Poet and author Stephen Levine focused much of his work and writing on death and dying, and the grieving process. It's important for me to give it some focus too. If not, I become too complacent. I go through my days forgetting how precious each one is. Forgetting that life is not made up of years, but rather moments that add up to days, days that add up to years. I keep forgetting. Most of us do. It is human nature. Even after great joys and deep pains, we tend to return to our general level of personal happiness. There is a name for this tendency: hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation.  It is helpful to consider the little joys and embrace the minor hurts that each day brings. Like the significant life and death moments, these also help us not forget how tenuous and absolutely st

A First and a Hero: Suni Lee

Today I am grateful for restful sleep and for the return of more summer green after several weeks of dry, brown weather.  I mentioned several female Olympians in my post yesterday. Today's post honor's one: gymnast Suni Lee. Lee returned to her native St. Paul to a parade and celebration yesterday for her and her accomplishments. She won the coveted all-around competition in gymnastics. She also won a silver medal as part of the team all-around competition and a bronze in the uneven bars.  It was also a celebration of a people, a steadfast community. She is the first Hmong American to compete in the Olympics. Not only representing her USA gymnastics team and her native state of Minnesota, but also the Hmong American community. Fellow Hmong Americans drove hundreds of miles to welcome her home and thank her for her contributions.  It has been a tough year for everyone because of COVID-19. Asian Americans have been targeted with hate crimes stemming from the pandemic. A reason to

Role Models of the Olympic and Human Kind

Today I am grateful for the much-needed rain we are getting this weekend and for the honor and tradition that the Olympic Games continue to embody. Truth be told, I haven't watched much of the Olympics from Tokyo. I just wasn't feeling it this year. But as track and field competition got underway, I started following the results more. There are so many wonderful stories of perseverance that show themselves.   Here are a few I noted: *Gymnast Simone Biles, age 24, returning to competition and medaling after removing herself from some of the competition because of mental health concerns. She is also vocal about the impact of the sexual abuse of Larry Nasser that she and so many other athletes suffered. *Hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, age 22, was a young high school prodigy and is now a world-record- holding Olympic champion. She exhibits a poise and self-awareness that tells me the adults around her were very intentional in keeping her grounded. *Marathoner Molly Seidel, age 27, brin

All of These

  Word for the Day  How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with  the aged, sympathetic with the striving,  and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. George Washington Carver  Tender. Compassionate. Sympathetic. Tolerant. As I typed these key action words pulled from the quote above, I felt the power of each of them. The healing, connecting, loving power.  Young, aged, striving, weak, and strong. I acknowledge these key words as well. They can all be part of a day or an hour or a week here in my mid-fifties. At 56, I feel young in ways and aged in others. It is an odd place to be; a challenging place, but also a rewarding one.  If I could have told my younger self something then that I know now, I would have simply reassured myself that life has a way of unfolding that goes more smoothly when I am a passenger, not the driver.  That doesn't mean I just let life happen to me. It means

Wind and Waters

Today I am grateful for chattering and scurrying squirrels and the many other connections I feel to the natural world as I sit on our back patio. I give thanks for the pleasant morning walk my husband Darcy and I took too.  The natural world. Always transforming, patient and intuitive. I like to absorb that energy and use it in my own life. Patient and intuitive. It takes more work for me than it does for Nature, but does it need to?  I am a slow learner, but this is a lesson and a discipline worth learning. I have made regular meditation a part of my mornings consistently now since 2021 got underway. I look forward to it; just like I look forward to writing and running. Benefits are reaped. Slow and steady. More will be revealed.  From my childhood days on the farm, I have always treasured time outside. I need it like I need air to breathe. The two go hand in hand nicely. I love the familiar, like my backyard right now. And I love new places and new scenery.  This amateur video compil

True Nature and Blue Skies

Word of the Day  Clouds come and go in the sky, but the appearance and disappearance of the  clouds don’t affect the sky. Your real nature is like the sky. Annamalai Swami  I captured these two photos last Friday on our trip. They are fitting complements to the quote. Sometimes the clouds are beautiful and soothing, relaxing to watch. Like these above. Sometimes they are rain clouds that bring gentle, needed precipitation. At other times, they are storm clouds that bring threatening and dangerous weather.  We have all had matching times in our lives; from calm to turmoil and everything in between. The blue sky is always there, whether we can see it or not. It is like faith. A strong and steady guide. A source of guidance and energy.  Consider your own personal strengths today and how they have helped you through tough times and brought greater joy to the steady and smooth times.  Gratefulness is one of my personal strengths. I cultivate it and it grows. The blue skies of healthy perspe

A Couple of Ironies

Today I am grateful for time with both of our grandsons in recent days and for safe travels, new experiences, nice weather, and spontaneity that yielded fun results.  My husband Darcy and I enjoyed our time in Door County, Wisconsin to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary.  We also enjoyed time with our grandson Aaron that included time at a historical park with his inquisitive knack for asking lots of questions, water fun in the backyard, and the simple joy of reading him a bedtime story. And of course a couple of stops at Lambeau Field.  Recently, our other grandson Leo and I were playing a game of Yahtzee. He is learning to keep his own score and write it down. I was doing some adding in my head and he said “You are good at thinking.” I smiled and thanked him. I have always had a knack for basic math calculations.  I smiled further and thought to myself: "If you only knew how good (and terrible) I can be at thinking. If you only knew!" We finished our game, but the irony